His hockey past had quite a few doors. The first team he tried for was Bantam AA (U15) at Airdrie. After not making the cut, he asked what he had done wrong with the other players, but didn’t give up. “I have always been a stubborn kid,” he said.

He finally tried at 16 for the Airdrie CFR Bisons. While he was told his skills were enough for the team, he was a year too young. Expanding his research, he was accepted by the Midget (U18) AAA team in Leduc, Alta., And made the leap in his pursuit of the sport.

“In awkward situations, get through it. “

Moving to a new city is difficult for most, especially for a 16 year old like Straschnitzki who is moving to Leduc and a new school on his own. It didn’t take long for the hockey player to want to go home.

However, her father advised her to wait a bit longer. “Uncomfortable situations help people grow,” he said.

“Create an opportunity; Find a way around a closed door.

Straschnitzki was then traded to the Saskatchewan Humboldt Broncos.

In April 2018, a coach carrying the hockey team crashed into a semi-trailer truck and killed 16 people, injuring 13 others. Straschnitzki remained paralyzed as a result of a spinal cord injury to the thoracic nerves (or T level), from the chest down.

In his hospital bed, he learned that he could no longer play hockey.

“I asked myself, ‘What can I do to get back on the ice? After just four months of recovery, he returned to the ice to learn sledge hockey, an adaptation of the sport designed for people with physical disabilities.

“Everything is a cycle: you succeed or learn, but never fail. “

Although the doctors told Straschnitzki that he would no longer walk, this attitude was not acceptable to the athlete. Two years ago, he underwent surgery in Thailand, implanting an epidural stimulator into his spine that would send electrical currents to nerves impacting physical movement. He took his first steps a few months ago with a walker and hopes to be able to walk independently again one day.

Finally, for Straschnitzki, the most important lesson of all he expressed to the students was: “be a good person”.

He told the students to work hard, be resilient and be a good teammate, whether in sports or in life.

“People care more about the person you were than the hockey player you were. Hockey is just a game “

It was this mindset that led him to sponsorship opportunities with companies like Adidas, to travel the world to share his story, and to meet NHL stars like Connor McDavid.

And behind all the success, Straschnitzki is still your everyday 22 year old man. He drives his car to the golf course, reads fun books like Seth Rogan’s Yearbook, writes in his journal, plays rock music on his guitar with a tattooed right neck, and spends time with his family.

“I try to learn new things every day and to understand that it is for the greater good of yourself,” he said.

In times of negativity, Straschnitzki’s strategy is to take small steps every day until you reach your goal.

This stubborn positivity continues even after her goals are met. “I’m already looking at what I want to accomplish next,” he said.

For now, that goal is to bring home a gold medal for Canada’s Olympic sledge hockey team.

Straschnitzki ended his speech with a quote on the wall from David Rossi, a character from the hit television series Criminal Minds, “Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we go.

Where is Ryan Straschnitzki going, it’s to be continued….

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